Thursday, 16 September 2010

HMRC cost -cutting will cost them dear

HM Revenue and Customs has announced that in future, where a taxpayer is represented by an agent, that agent will no longer receive copies of various forms. The forms which now only taxpayers will receive include PAYE Coding Notices (really helpful as this is an area of problems currently). Other forms and letters which taxpayers' agents will no longer have include:

  • Letter advising of a new Universal Tax Reference and advising that a Tax Return will have to be completed in future.
  • Letter advising that a Tax Return will not be required in future.
  • Tax calculation form showing HMRC's computation of the annual liability. 
HMRC thinks that they will save £1.25M in making this change. Of course in terms of paper and postage this may be true, but how much time in terms of telephone calls from agents will they waste when the taxpayers have failed to pass on the forms or in respect of Codings which should have been adjusted, but were not, due to a breakdown of communication between client and agent?

HMRC likes to refer to taxpayers as “customers”. We always say that if we taxpayers were customers we would take our business elsewhere. If we were really customers we would be contemplating loss of customer service without a cut in our charges. Anyway, in the end it is one more cut in HMRC which will make them more inefficient at a time when a few more properly qualified staff could actually bring them more money in. At the same time there is more cost and inconvenience to the public

I am all for cutting waste. It seems very short-sighted to make cuts which will end up costing more money and making communication harder. Are HMRC so deep in their dark tunnels that they have lost touch with the real world? It often seems like it.
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